Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Siskiyou Land Conservancy and the strangest comment I've ever received...

Folks, I've received hate mail by the score and love mail by the one but in all my days writing this here (and other there) blog, I've never received something like this. To provide a little context, I recently wrote about the night(mare) drive Vicky and I took through northern California. I know if probably sounded like a real pain in the ass - that would be the result of my forgetting that we were in the midst of some beautiful countryside. (Lack of sleep will do that.)

Towering redwoods. Glistening falls. Thundering rivers. And all too intimidating mountainsides. It was sublime... which is to say that the beauty was easy to miss through the sense of never making it home. One thing this comment (which you're about to read, I assure you) reminded me of was the many times Vicky and I told each other how great it would be to spend some time hiking up there... one of these days.

But now, the comment in its entirety:


Hi Kenneth,

I enjoyed your travelogue. I am former Executive Director of the Smith River Project, and I now run the Siskiyou Land Conservancy. Both organizations have a lot to do with protecting much of the land you and Vicky drove through in Northwestern California. I would like to send you more information about our work, for even though you got rained on, and couldn't enjoy it much, this territory is some of the most beautiful, biologically diverse and ecologically important in the world.

Please see: http://www.SiskiyouLandConservancy.org/ for more information.

Yes, we are seeking donations. We rely on donors from outside the area to keep our programs afloat. Our work benefits all Californians, and Americans. Can you help?

Donations may be sent to:

Siskiyou Land Conservancy
P.O. Box 4209
Arcata, CA 95518

We are a non-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

Thanks for your good writing, keep it up!

Greg King
President/Program Director
Siskiyou Land Conservancy
707-826-1994

Yes, it was a sales pitch - and I have to admit its message, if not its timing, was perfect. After all, looking back I wish we'd taken pictures for both of you readers to see how beautiful it was. Did I mention we saw elk? How cool is that?

Okay, so I don't have any money right now, being unemployed and all, but that doesn't mean one of you readers don't have a job. Looking for that tax write-off with a terrific cause? I don't ask for money much (which may explain my current financial situation) but I think this guy is a part of the values Vicky and I are always trying to espouse.

Take a look at his website.

And listen, Greg, though I cannot offer money (sometimes I cannot remember money), let me know if you ever need any writing done. I owe you one.
Sex Sex Sex Sex and more Sex...

... and Paul F. Thompkins... and K-Fed... and the jingling of keys...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keith Olberman: NTSA = oil whore...

You probably have your own list but this one will work for today...

Thanksgiving and the long drive…

Vicky and I did a lot of driving together last week, which is a bafflingly expansive understatement if ever there was one. We, of course, decided that we’d drive up to Washington, rather than fly. Flying would have nearly doubled our expenses, something we couldn’t afford.

Driving all that way – Anaheim to Seattle is about 1200 miles, after all... most of the time – wasn’t exactly our idea of fun but, as explained, it was our only option.

The first leg, we decided to split in two. On the first day, we left home after 9am and hit traffic in LA and Stockton. We were glad when we pulled up to the La Quinta in Redding later that night. As Vicky checked in, we asked the girl about the restaurant next door. “Is it any good?” “Yeah. We all like it,” she said. Wearing my grubby, driving clothes, I asked her if I’d need to change. She said, “No. You’re in Redding.” Nice town.

And the food was fantastic! The restaurant, Cattlemens, was quiet and warm – we loved the warmth and it was only our first day out! We each ordered Pete’s Special… okay, here’s the thing. If you live close enough, go to this place. Fantastic! Big, juicy Harris Ranch steak (healthy meat = good steak!), aged so well we didn’t even need steak sauce. Spuds. Veggies. Beans. Bread. And a glass of this incredible, Bonterra organic wine. With it, we ordered the artichoke/cheese dip and walked out of there for about $40!! Not bad!

Okay, enough about dinner. We hit the sack stuffed and woke up not too early the next day. We started off at nearly 8am on Wednesday and made pretty good time into the mountains and over the pass. That ended south of Salem, Oregon. Traffic was stop and STOP! Vicky was flinching every time we had to stop again. (She had issues with me looking at the scenery. But, come on, when you’re driving less than a mile an hour…) From our stopping point and all the way north through Portland was over 40 miles, and we crawled the entire way. Vicky was ready to kill – basically anyone – just to get out of the car for five minutes, her own personal edition of the “nic fit”. Strangely though, as soon as we hit the Washington border, traffic opened up again and we were moving. But what we didn’t know was that we were moving with great speed into a rather unpleasant rain storm and, for over 50-60 miles leading up to Seattle, we drove through some absolutely horrible rain with some of the craziest drivers (one a double-trailer Fed Ex truck that thought it was in Nascar) along side of us. Finally, Vicky put on her iPod, I think to stop herself from screaming (at me – at the road – does it matter?), and I turned off the music to concentrate on making out the road in the midst of the deluge. At around 8pm, we pulled into Lynnwood and our hotel.

Vicky hated the drive because, for her, it was more of a ride than a drive. She didn’t like riding along all that way without anything to do. But she had more than her opportunity on the way back. We knew the drive back would be worse weeks ago. Simply, we’d need to do it in one shot – we’d have less than a day – though I’d done that a few times, Vicky must have thought I was kidding.

I wasn’t.

I awoke especially early on Sunday morning. We had come home from Dwight’s wedding the night before to find Titanic on TV… and Vicky wanted to watch it. Damn. I hate that movie. I’ve never been a fan of watching anyone (even Republicans) die slow, painful deaths and that’s all Titanic is, basically. Worse still, I awoke at 3am Sunday morning from a nightmare, watching Vicky’s face sinking into her watery grave. I didn’t go back to sleep.

I awoke Vicky at 4am and we dressed and packed and were ready to leave at 4:30. We were supposed to leave at 5am, but I talked her into an earlier departure time… and I’m glad I did. North of Tacoma and all the way until we were far south of Puget Sound, snow fell, a goodly accumulation of it. Vicky took the first driving shift and I was none too pleased to watch as she sped into the downfall – I got a taste of what she must have felt on Wednesday night as I sped through even harder rain. She told me not to worry but she wasn’t fooling me. I was just thankful when we hit Salem again and pulled up to the Almost Home restaurant for breakfast. Good grub!

I took over the driving after, not knowing what I was in for!

Dad and I had talked over the options for the drive south after I found out how much the chance for rain in the passes had increased. By Sunday, it was a sure thing; we wouldn’t be driving through the Siskiyous on the way home. My first thought was to take the 97 but Dad was certain that, with the way it was raining, my only safe bet would be to drive west, via the 199, to keep the snow behind us. The 199 connected with the 101 and this would have been a safe bet for driving home but we were also concerned with speed. We had to get home faster than the 101 would have taken us. And so, despite even Steve’s warning (he’s my dad-in-law) about how we should have stayed away from the 299, I decided to trade comfort for time and take the 299 once we reentered California. My reasoning was this: The 299 was a 2-lane but Sunday traffic shouldn’t have been too bad. The big storm dumping rain and snow in Oregon and Washington was forecast to stop at the border. And, finally, I needed to shave every unnecessary mile off that I could because Vicky had to get to work on Monday and I wasn’t going to have her blaming me if she couldn’t.

The 199 split from the 5 freeway in Grant’s Pass. I was ready for a switch in drivers already by the time we reached that point. But I wasn’t going to say anything to Vicky because I’d promised to take this unknown stretch and let her rest. My first clue as to how this drive would go should have been when I saw snow-warning signs on the 199, the western road with the lower elevation. What I didn’t know was that the storm was moving much further south than forecast and that Vicky and I were heading straight into it.

The 199 was an exhausting road, made for scenery – and we weren’t seeing any of it, just rain. At the California border, the road entered Smith River Park, filled with redwoods and started to wind through river valleys and around mossy hillsides. It hit the 101 at Crescent City and Vicky and got out for a much-needed stretch and potty break. (Yes… I said “potty”.) But when we walked out… the rain had turned into a deluge to make Noah blush. Vicky asked, “What do you want to do?” “Keep driving,” I told her.

There was a lot of traffic on the road – a lot more than I liked, at least. Soon, we entered the Redwood National Park. Gorgeous? Yes. Fast, what with the other cars and the torrential flooding? No.

But! We saw elk!

So…

At points, we could see the Pacific, roiling untitularly. This storm was not nice. And it seemed to take forever to reach the 299. On the map, the distance had seemed so short! (Inches!)

By the time we reached the 299, I was tired but I didn’t want to tell Vicky. Our GPS said that we only had about 150 miles to go. I could make it, I told myself. But you put two tired people in a car for that long – the sun was going down – and tensions flare. By the time we were past the coast and past the forest and well into the mountains…

… any arguing had stopped…

And here’s why. We were in another snowstorm. And either the clouds had dropped enough or our altitude had climbed enough (signs designating 2000 and 3000 feet kept popping up on the roadside) to put us in a cloudbank. And it was dark out. And I couldn’t really see the road. And I was tired. And people kept whizzing by… To Vicky’s credit, she never said she told me so… or that her father had. To my credit, I kept my speed up, gritted my teeth, ignored my paranoia towards driving off of cliffs, and kept going. I had hoped that our detour would put us in Redding by 6pm.

At 6:45, we pulled into Redding. Not too bad if I do say so myself… and I do…

But we still had an incredibly long way to go. After a quick bite at Carl’s Jr, Vicky took us the next leg of the drive. The rain even stopped for a few minutes. We thought we were past the storms. Little did we realize. The rain kept coming back, now and again, our entire way home! Somewhere south of Santa Nella (Pea Soup Anderson’s!), Vicky ran out of steam and I took over again. It was around midnight and Vicky was too tired to listen to any CDs or the radio. I drove on in silence.

Boy, was that a bad idea! The only thing keeping me awake were my imaginary conversations with the other cars and snippets of songs half-remembered. Vicky told me she was never fully asleep so she must have really worried to hear my improvised sketches and conversation – ANYTHING to keep me awake! (Okay... not anything...)

Arriving at the Grapevine took forever and traffic picked up. We entered another patch of rain all through the mountains and I was too tired to take the road quickly. I kept our speed down to an ungodly 65 mph and grumbled at all the people flashing their high beams at the asshole going the speed limit.

After Magic Mountain, Vicky awoke and, together, we passed the last few miles home. I was ready to pass out at any moment and only kept myself awake and driving thanks to the acid reflux causing intense pain.

We pulled up in front of our house at 3:45am… we’d been driving for nearly a day straight… which, coincidentally, is just about enough to make me never want to do that again.

People joked about us killing each other on the road but we actually made it pretty well. At least, well enough not to need to prove it again!

... and, no. Vicky did not go to work on Monday.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving and the Surprise Meal…

So, as I mentioned, Vicky and I headed up north for Thanksgiving this year. We wouldn’t have but for the fact that my brother, Dwight, was getting married in Arlington on Saturday. Since we were driving to save cash (plane tickets were nearly $600 a pop!), the trip took on a weeklong aspect.

But the driving I’ll save for another entry.

We were, originally, going to congregate as a family (descend as a horde) on some unsuspecting restaurant. But Vicky had a better idea – we’d save the restaurant and torture some unsuspecting friend.

As you can probably guess, Jenn was that friend.

I’d never met Jenn before, though we’ve come to know each other a bit through blogging (he said, actually using that word as a verb). I liked her immediately! And I was the guy who, when Vicky first had the idea, decided it would be a bad, bad idea to do Thanksgiving at her house.

I was wrong.

Vicky and I drove over to her place early to see Jenn very relaxed and organized. The dinner – a spread with all the trimmings – was totally under control; Jenn could sit and watch TV with us as we waited for everyone else to show. And watch TV, we did. We kept it on the TV Food network, watching other people make Thanksgiving dinner! But, soon, others began to arrive.

I was concerned that my family might be too much for Jenn. After all, her place is rather small and my family (totaling more than the expect nine) was a platoon! But Jenn’s thinking was that, being in a stranger’s home, they’d all be on their best behavior. And she was right.

Actually, looking back on it, I realize that they were never the problem. That side of my family is the un-neurotic side, the friendly side, the comfortable-in-social-situations side – no problem. I, on the other hand, come from the other side… the neurotic, uncomfortable, awkward, easily-saying-the-wrong-thing side. The person I was most worried about… was me.

Thankfully, I did fine.

My dad and Blanche (who is far more than a step-mom to me), her brother Mitch and his wife Cherryl, my brother Richard, his wife Teri, and their son Hayden, Vicky and I, along with Jenn all fit in quite nicely. Cherryl even guilted another brother, Dwight (the guy getting hitched in two days), to make an appearance. He brought his bride-to-be, Monica, and a friend along. There was a little back-biting but none you’d notice and Jenn made so much good food that we all ate like pigs.

There was a lot of laughter and smiles… nothing like the Thanksgivings I’m used to – but, then, I come from the other side of the family. Even Vicky noticed this. She told me later how separate I seemed from the rest of the bunch. Sometimes, I almost feel adopted by them.

Jenn’s been adopted, too. She’s as good as part of the family now, which makes Vicky her sister-in-law, I guess.

After the family left, Jenn, Vicky, and I sat with our wines – Vicky and I (the winos) had brought with us a trunkload of primo vinos – assessing the dinner. Mitch had helped carve. Blanche and Cherryl had helped with dishes. Vicky and I had helped clean. Richard and Teri and helped by changing Hayden – a very important job! We’d all worked together as a family.

Neat.

I’ve never been comfortable with family. The concept had been torn in two when I was five. As the years pass, however, and I am fortunate enough to be surrounded with people who unbelievable love me, I think I’m starting to get it… maybe

We prayed before the meal… well, they prayed while I stood silently… we all stood in a circle, joining hands. I wish someone had asked me what I was thankful for. I would have said that, being out of work, my future so up in the air, I was thankful for that day and that moment.

Thank you, Jenn.

And thank you, Vicky.

And to all the others in my life who put up with me and, mysteriously, think well of me, thank you.

Oh, and Jenn made fresh whipped cream for the pies Blanche brought. Fucking awesome, man.

Monday, November 27, 2006

We live in a society where PEACE is considered EVIL...

Coming back from a rather tumultuous vacation of sorts (more on that later), I'm shocked to open up the news and find that, in Colorado at least, the Peace sign is considered the sign of Satan.

The fuck?

Whatever happened to "Peace on Earth"? Have we become so war-hungry that we cannot tolerate that? Has our sense of right and wrong become so perverted?

What the hell is happening, anyway?
Olberman: Abuse of Power...

A culture of abuse only breeds abuse.
Those who fail to learn from history...

... seem to be in Shrub's corner.

Thanksgiving and What’s Been Going On…

So, what’s been going on, anyway?

For the past week, Vicky and I have been up in Seattle. We drove up there (kind of a “Driving North, Part Trois”) and spent Thanksgiving with my family, thanks to the generosity and fabulous cooking of Jenn (not just an Internet myth), and also attended Dwight’s wedding.

My last monologue, as some of you may know, was based on a trip up north, around the time of my divorce. I didn’t know how I would write about this trip, what form it would take, so I thought I’d just forget the writing and just experience it. What came out what disjointed, fragmented… We were put inside a box and the box was well shook. Now, we’ve come out and returned home. I’ve got a few things to talk about.

But that’s for later.

A brief appearance...

For those of you wondering if I've died... I haven't.

For those of you wondering if I've given up... I didn't.

For those of you who think that, after the week I've had, I wish I could do a little of both... You're probably right.

All the same, as soon as I get a little sleep I'll fill you in.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not to say they're NAZIs...

But about the only thing you have to do to be a LIBERAL Republican these days is speak out against ethnic cleansing...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Sermon…

For 40 minutes, at the gym this morning, I jogged on the treadmill and watched the only thing on the TV hanging before me: a televangelist. I couldn’t tell too much about him because the show appeared to be an infomercial (read: No Commercial Breaks or Station Identification) and, for 40 minutes, he kept talking and talking, a phone number appearing at regular intervals I was implored to call.

His message wasn’t too hard to get, as it was repeated… repeatedly as I watched. It was abhorrent enough to make me remember and to make me write.

The crux of it was to explain why God allows suffering, which you’d think would be a noble enough thing to talk about.

It wasn’t.

According to this preacher – a Baptist preacher if you believe the captions – “God allows suffering to increase righteousness.” God allows suffering to increase righteousness.

Not a bad thought. Suffering increases righteousness. Kind of a Lord of the Rings kind of worldview, right?

But then, you throw the word “allow” in the mix. God allows suffering to increase righteousness. So, then, children starving and dying in the Sudan are very righteous! Children in Iraq are righteous! A kid raped and tortured by his parent is righteous!

But why couldn’t we just skip the suffering and have God increase righteousness??

And that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that if suffering increases righteousness, more suffering bring more righteousness. So, we should kill more children in Iraq. More kids should be raped and tortured! (And the best part is that the Bible doesn’t have a problem with either.)

And finally, this means that suffering is a good thing that should be promoted, cultivated, and allowed to thrive.

Then, this idiot went on. His next message was “God allows suffering to increase obedience”. Both of these messages were so important, they were captioned on the screen! “God allows suffering to increase obedience.”

Now, not only is this saying that God wants you to obey and that he’ll punish you if you don’t but, if suffering brings righteousness and obedience, then if you are one you are also the other. So, an obedient person is a righteous person! Righteous people don’t think for themselves. They follow blindly. They do as they are told. And God wants you to be this way – if you’re not, you’ll get it!

… sounds a bit wrong to me.

Oh, and if that wasn’t the final insult, each time this message was repeated, the preacher started in about tithing. If you want to be righteous, he seemed to say, you’ll be obedient and give us your money!!!

Nice.

And he was doing God’s work – spreading the good word… and making a few bucks while he was at it.

Now, I know I’ve been going on for a bit but I want to test this theory for a second. If suffering brings righteousness and obedience, you would think it should apply to me. I mean, I can’t seem to get a job – I’ve become the least likely person to get hired. I get turned down almost daily with no encouragement. My friends are bailing on me about as badly as during my divorce. Things are looking pretty bad for me and my family.

That should make me pretty righteous and obedient… right? Well, probably not. I mean, would you call me righteous? I’m a friggin’ atheist. And as for obedience, well, let’s just say, “Good fucking luck.”

Let’s face it, this jackass preacher didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He was just using God to make a buck, which is neither righteous nor obedient… but then, I don’t see him suffering.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What's it like being the first Muslim in Congress?...

Like finally getting some lube...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Keith Olberman: Faux News Uncovered...

Fox. News. Oxymoron.
Keith Olberman: Right Wing terrorists...

Not all terrorists are brown people!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The stomach flu that ate Detroit…

Coming soon to a stomach near you (but let’s hope not, huh?).

Vicky has this theory that I catch a cold every 3-4 months. Sadly, this year, she’s been on the money. When we returned from Hawaii in April, I got sick. In August, I got sick. And now that it’s November… yep, I’m sick.

It started out as a stomach flu that had me… um… well… it wasn’t pretty. Now, it’s moved on to the suburbs of my body and I’ve been enjoying a dandy, little fever since yesterday. I’m exhausted. I fall asleep all the time, have the wickedest dreams, then wake up from body aches and fever… ugh! So, I’m basically wiped out right now.

Actually, I’m sitting at my desk, squirming from muscle aches, and trying to remember what it was I was going to say…. Dammit…

The only upside to this that I can think of is that, by getting sick now, I’ll be better for my brother’s wedding. Hate to say it but I’m not really looking forward to it. I’ve been trying to lose weight for it but that’s been kind of a bust. This unemployment thing has only served to further isolate me from my family because I’ve been so ashamed of myself. And, to top it off, I can’t even write…

… as is probably evident right about now, huh?

I’m going to go crawl back into bed now...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just to give you a smile...

How can you not love this?

As an atheist, I have to chuckle…

You gotta admit, it takes some balls.

We’ve got a country full of gun-toting, gay-hating, Bible-thumping, war-starting Christia… er, hypocrites and these people have come out with a movie filled with evidence disputing that their almighty Savior (you know, the one who preached the tolerance and love they so conveniently ignore) never even existed. Sure, The God Who Wasn’t There is filled with old evidence, long substantiated evidence, stuff I’ve known about for year, not too much new, shiny, cool shit, but it takes some balls to release a movie like that in a country filled with people who hate anyone who doesn’t love their big, spooky, imaginary old man in the sky (or young man impaled on wood, if you prefer the gayer interpretation). Yeah, you'll love the trailer!

As for me, I’d have no problem with Christians if they’d just be Christian, if they’d just follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but that would require them to love their enemies, turn the other cheek, provide for those less well-off than themselves, and…. oh right, FORGIVE.

That ain’t happening.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A pain in the… stomach…

Can you believe I’ve got a stomachache? Bad one, too. I’m doubled over on my keyboard as I type this. But, hey, it can’t be avoided. I’ve gone through my morning ritual of looking for work and flagellating myself with guilt. Now, my stomach has taken over.

But I assure you this has nothing to do with last night’s dinner! Vicky ate some and she’s just fine!

This is the first time I’ve been sick since losing my job. You might say that unemployment agrees with me.

I wouldn’t.

In fact, this whole unemployment business is beginning to freak me out.

I only have three months left of unemployment insurance. After that, my writing career will be over and my career at Target/Costco/gas station/etc. will have begun. After spending over a decade building a career as a writer, well, it’s not something I’m looking forward to with any enthusiasm, let me tell you.

And I haven’t been doing the best job keeping these fears from Vicky. She’s been doing a great job at being supportive but I think I’ve been relying on that a bit too much. But I guess that’ll come to no surprise to those who know me – the strong, silent type, I ain’t.

Anyway, I guess I’ll go watch some TV and hope that, with any luck, you’ll hear me complaining about having a job that doesn’t give me enough time off soon…

Monday, November 13, 2006

Me and my butter nuts…

Okay, for those of you googling for creepily pornographic blogs… um… this ain’t one of them. (I said “ain’t”!) This is actually about butternut squash, because Jenn’s been putting recipes back on her blog and I figured I should keep up with the Jenn… ses…

A couple of weeks ago, Vicky and I picked up a package of pre-chopped butternut squash from Costco (where America goes to get obese). We didn’t know what we’d do with it but we wanted to eat healthier and, well, how long can you eat baby carrots, anyway?

(And why do they call them baby carrots? It’s not like they are actually very young carrots. My theory is that they put a regular carrot inside of some kind of grinder and out pops three or four baby ones.)

We found this great recipe for Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew, which called for – you guessed it – butternut squash. It’s very healthy, good for you… and we were figuring it would taste like shit.

Surprise! It didn’t!

We decided to make it again this week. Actually, we decided I’d make it this week.

So, here are the ingredients:

cooking spray
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced (but who are we kidding? Go crazy!)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup baby carrots (it’s not like our fridge wasn’t full of them anyway)
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp salt

Preparation is one of those 1, 2, 3 kind of things:

First, wilt the onion and garlic in a pan with a couple sprays of cooking spray (you may know this as “Pam”).

Second, throw that, along with the carrots, tomatoes, broth, cinnamon, cumin, pepper flakes and (oh yeah) the squash into your slow cooker and simmer for six hours.

Third, write me a check for all of your money and mail it to me while adding the chickpeas (rinsed and drained) and salt and letting it cook for about five more minutes.


Don’t forget to give it a few stirs. Also, if you don’t want to buy one of those monster cans of crushed tomatoes (the only way the sell the bastards, it seems), you can crush the tomatoes yourself. Just get some tomatoes (peeled) and crush them with your blender, hand mixer, food processor, or small child. (Paying attention?)

Making this again turned out to be a slight problem. When I took the remaining butternut squash from our fridge, it had obviously gone bad. In its bag, it was coated with a creamy, white film.

(… wait… um… just a sec… maybe I shouldn’t mention “creamy white film” in a blog entry about my butter nuts…)

This is how I came to find out why you don’t often hear about people cooking with butternuts. I had to go to the store and actually buy one! Actually prepare it!

Okay, the thing is, if you can get it pre-chopped in a bag – DO SO!

If you’re thinking about buying one from the store… just a few things:

1) The peel is actually wood bark. And, yes, you have to peel it.

2) Splitting it is probably best done with a chainsaw.

3) They were pretty cheap at the store. After a few hours of chopping, peeling, and getting Band-Aids for the cuts on my hands, arms, and face, I can see why.

Anyway, enjoy!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An election 2006 post-mortum…

(No, this isn’t going to be about how well the Dems did. Was it a step in the right direction? Sure. But it was only a step!)

I was very disappointed last night. The election, while good for thoughtful people with regards to checks and balances and having more than one group of people in control (we’re hoping) still had many pitfalls.

Take, for instance, the landslide victory of the Mad Austrian here in California. What the hell? Just a year ago, this guy holds special elections to try and bust the unions of teachers, firefighters, and other people for whom we should provide a living wage and now he’s everyone’s hero? This is the guy whose disdain for our environment is as big as his car and we can’t wait to get him back office? What the hell is wrong with you people, anyway?

Oh, I know. I’ve heard it. Schwartzenfucker is supposed to be cool because he was a… um… an actor. Sure. That makes as much sense as hiring a guy with a big ass crack to fix your plumbing – HE SURE LOOKS LIKE THE JOB, RIGHT?! I thought you people learned your lesson with Reagan? After all, they’re both about as talented.

But when it comes to people being conned into voting against their own best interests, nobody takes the prize – steals the prize – better than the tobacco and oil lobbies.

Proposition 86, here in California, would have put a tax on cigarettes. That should have been a NO BRAINER! Let’s see… more revenue and fewer smokers. Shit! Wouldn’t want that!! Proposition 87, also in California, would have invested in alternate sources of energy to help clean our environment. Clean Environment?! Ewwwww!!!

The tobacco and oil lobbies convinced Californians not to vote for these measures with one great, knockout punch. They basically said, “We should have that money! It’s ours!” And California responded with a brave and hearty, “Oh…. Okay….” And so, California turned its back on health and well being for cheaper smokes and more smog.

Idiots.

I’m ashamed to live here…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A reminder on election day...

Voting is NOT enough.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Today’s mental roller coaster: Success through Algebra…

I’m nearly halfway done with my unemployment benefits. Halfway. And no job.

It’s beyond nerve wracking. It’s petrifying.

And so, it was interesting to find the following equation in the book I’m reading by Abraham Maslow: No Future = No Neurosis.

Makes sense. What’s there to be neurotic about if there’s no future. Context. Meaning. These things are important.

And it got met thinking about success – after all, that’s why I’m reading Maslow in the first place.

I tried simple substitution: No Success = No Neurosis.

… Um, no.

But there was something there; I could feel the bee buzzing in my heading. Something about context and meaning.

Neurosis is created by reference. That reference is the future.

And then: BINGO. Success – Reference = Meaningless.

… which was a lot like saying: Success – X = 0. Um… it didn’t really mean anything.

What’s the Reference?

That’s when I realized I had an algebra problem on my hands. I stomped around the house, bitching and complaining because, basically, I hate algebra!!! And Vicky gave me that “I married a lunatic” look she’s been giving me so often lately.

… solve for X.

If Success – Reference = Meaningless, then… umm….

Taking away the reference removes the meaning of success… that means that success connects you (provides context) to the reference…

I went around the house. “What’s the reference? What’s the reference?”

I began a list. It couldn’t be things people think of as success (money, fame, fortune) because I wasn’t trying to find that. I was trying to find the thing that success connects a person to… and, strangely enough, it started to come together. Money is meaningless without… Fame is meaningless without… Fortune is meaningless without… Put in those terms, the reference was obvious.

I sat down with Vicky and asked her help.

“I think what I’m saying is that success is meaningful when it connects you with people in your life.”

“Sure,” she agreed.

“But what else does this? What connects you meaningfully with other people?”

Vicky didn’t realize it but she was about to give me the answer the blew the whole thing wide open. She said, “Just interacting with people.”

Simple.

I was so stupid!

Success – Reference = Meaningless

Success + Reference (that being a connection with others) = Meaningful. Which is to say, success is meaningful when it connects you to others.

Therefore, connecting with others in a meaningful way brings success. It blew the whole thing open. That’s why those who have little material wealth but have people who love them feel successful and who those who have amassed millions but have few friends feel empty.

It also answered the question I’ve been asked so often, “What’s the point of this?”

A mathematical way of expressing decency to others….

I’ve got to finish this book.

And in other SHOCKING NEWS...

Saddam got the death sentence!

Wow!

That's amazing!

We must have had some...

...

...

... really

... good

...

... lawyers???

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What would Jesus Hawk?…

So, I’m at the gym this morning (4 1/3 miles and one lap around the circuit), watching the typical mix of televangelists and infomercials… What’s the difference? Infomercials have better production values. Televangelists have bigger audiences. But, essentially, they’re the same. They are both pushing a product that they claim will make your life better and make you happier… which won’t.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, here comes this lady selling Christian Diet Books & DVDs. (Along with the EVER POPULAR Christian message: Why We Want You To Be Rich!) Cause, you know, Christ was all about shedding those extra inches. Isn’t that why he fasted in the desert???

This woman’s exploitation of Jesus’ message is nothing new or unique. It’s just so… cheap. It makes me ashamed to say, “Yes, I’m human, too.”

And you don’t have to actually change money in the temple to be a hypocrite…. Really…

Friday, November 03, 2006

And how is this news...?

I've decided I want a new feature on websites that feature "news".

A lot of sites allow for feedback, linking, what have you... but I want one more.

Take Yahoo for instance. One of their featured stories today is how P. Diddy wants to be James Bond. Dumbass, who doesn't??

So, I'd like to suggest a single button that any reader can click: the "And how is this news?" button. You think stupid stories like the one about P. Diddy, or the one about people getting addicted to the Internet, might get a few clicks?

Getting the people who run the sites to pay attention would be a different story, of course.

The word for the day: Impermanence…

I was at the gym this morning, doing my usual thing. This morning, it was four miles on the treadmill and one circuit through the weight machines. On the treadmill next to me, two old people discussed music. They had a conversation that I swear, after 1985, I never thought I’d hear again.

“All I listen to is Big Band. It’s the last, good music.”

“I wish it would come back.”

“It had a resurgence in the ‘50’s but…”

“It couldn’t fight rock and roll.”

“I can’t stand that stuff.”

I was finding their discussion ironic because, overhead, “Smokin” by Boston was playing, a song constructed very much like a Tommy Dorsey song (listen to “Sing Sing Sing with a Little Swing”). A few songs later “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” by Offspring was on and I could see the similarities between that and Boston. I also thought about Christiana Aguilera’s new disk and how it borrows a lot from the 40’s. It’s all related. Big Band was co-opted but not forgotten!

Now, I’m not saying that those old timers (who probably weren’t more than 15 years or so older than me) should start listening to Offspring. Don’t get me wrong. What I’m saying is that, while I can see how the music is all related, one of these days something’s going to come around that’s so offensive that my old fogey self is going to shut myself off to it, too. Things change. That’s the nature of life.

I wish I could see that when it came to the job hunt.

I’ve been at this now – what? – for nearly three months!? When’s it going to end??? I mean: FUCK!!

I’ve been asking for feedback from employers who turn me down and, let me tell you, that hasn’t been helping.

One employer, last week, wrote that my writing was above-average and that my personality was animated and eager… but he didn’t say why he didn’t hire me. I just wasn’t “the one”. He ended his email, “I trust that a quality copywriting position is both imminent and appropriate for you.” Now, seriously, what the fuck does that mean?

This week was even worse, though. After going for multiple interviews with an employer and completing a test that I was emailed at home, I wasn’t given the position. Why? Not because I wasn’t a good write. Not because I wasn’t personable.

Because I finished the test too quickly! I thought it would display my sincerity and my interest. They said it showed a lack of “thoughtfulness”… huh? They also said I displayed some red flags, such as telling them one of my hobbies was acting and that I seemed desperate for the job.

It’s like you can’t win.

So, anyway, impermanence.

This job search could be impermanent. Right? I could find a job tomorrow (or, at least, Monday), right? On the flip side, I could lose everything if I don’t find a job.

Not good. Not good.

The only truly bright side to all of this has been Vicky, who has been nothing but supportive. I’m a very lucky guy.

Her luck stinks.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Keith Olberman - Bush Must Apologize To The Troops Part 2...

This is the second part. Part 1 should also be posted.
Keith Olberman - Bush Must Apologize To The Troops Part 1...

This is a two-parter and well worth it.
Keith Olberman: George Allen Mafia Beat Up Citizen

This is how some Republican candidates handle questions. We should all know better!

What is it about the right wing and cock?…

They just can’t keep their hands off the stuff – the party that’s supposed to be anti-GAY is about as gay as you can get!

First, there’s Foley.

Now, there’s this guy! Evangelical, gay-hating Christian (of which there are, sadly, more and more each day), and he’s paying money for the cock!

It’s tempting to, um, insert a joke about the Log Cabin Republicans just about now! But, seriously, what is with these people? They’re the strangest bunch I’ve every witnessed!

“Hate the gays! Hate the gays!… (Hey, wanna suck on my…)

And they call the left a bunch of perverts…

But you don’t hear them calling us hypocrites.